Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bold Broadband Policy: Yes We Can, America


Try to imagine this scenario, that General Motors and Ford were given exclusive franchises to build America's interstate highway system, and also all the highways that connect local communities.

Now imagine that, based upon a financial crisis, these troubled companies decided to convert all "their" local arteries into toll-roads -- they then use incremental toll fees to severely limit all travel to and from small businesses. Why? This handicapping process reduced the need to invest in building better new roads, or repairing the dilapidated ones.

But, wouldn't that short-sighted decision have a detrimental impact on the overall national economy? It's a moot point -- pure fantasy -- you say. The U.S. political leadership would never knowingly risk the nation's social and economic future on the financial viability of a restrictive duopoly.

Or, would they?

The 21st century Global Networked Economy travels across essential broadband infrastructure. The forced introduction of tiered pricing plans in the U.S. has ignited a heated debate, and moved bold local policymakers in New York to decisive action.

Here is Austin, Texas, where I live and work -- we've been warned; your local economy has been targeted for handicapped broadband, prepare for the inevitable. Internet toll booths are now scheduled to arrive in October. Meanwhile, State of Texas policymakers have remained silent, thus far.

In other related news, the U.S. federal government will finally start work on a national broadband policy. One of the few remaining nations in the developed world yet to address this key forward-looking economic development issue, America has lost so much competitive ground to the global leaders that the task at hand is now truly daunting.

What can be done to ensure that the U.S. catches up with Japan, South Korea, France and the others? Surprisingly, in comparison, French consumers still pay less and get significantly more bandwidth per dollar than Americans do on average.

If the Obama administration follows Australia's bold plan of action, where the vested interest of the Australian people are apparently the national priority, then there is hope for swift progress. Where did the Australian's likely get their inspiration? Land of the free, and home of the brave -- my point: Yes, We Can, America

Update:
Congressman Eric Massa, Rochester - New York, describes the "huge issue" (see Video opening statement) to a group of local constituents -- why 21st Century Internet access is essential for all Americans.

Five Days on the Digital Dirt Road tells the stories of mainstream Americans who say that they can't wait any longer for the "promise" of broadband Internet access to reach their communities. "When is our time going to come."

The U.S. government can learn much from the current global broadband trailblazer nations, such as South Korea, that have demonstrated the results of meaningful public policy.